Peter Ratcliffe has dedicated his research career to understanding the body’s molecular-level response to low oxygen levels, or ‘hypoxia’. Hypoxia occurs in organs and tissues during diseases such as coronary heart disease and cancer. Peter’s vital research has revealed the molecular chain of events initiated in its wake.
In the 1980s, Peter began researching how hypoxia stimulated release of the hormone erythropoietin from the kidneys. This was thought to be central to humans’ response to low oxygen. Peter discovered, in fact, that cells all over the body can sense hypoxia and initiate a host of adjustments and responses, mediated via oxygen-sensitive enzymes.
The molecules and mechanisms revealed by Peter’s work are being investigated by the pharmaceutical industry as potential new routes to treat a range of diseases, from cancer to chronic anaemia. Peter’s contribution to the understanding of our fundamental physiology was recognised by his knighthood in 2014 for services to clinical medicine.
Director, Target Discovery Institute, University of Oxford
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Biochemistry and molecular biology
Health and human sciences
For his ground-breaking research on oxygen sensing and signalling pathways mediating cellular responses to hypoxia.
Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine
No citation available for this award.
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
For their discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability.